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Slovenia gearing up for two World Cup qualifiers

Ljubljana, 29 September - Slovenian national football team coach Srečko Katanec presented on Thursday the team's roster for the upcoming 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Slovakia and England. The team features debutant Aleks Pihler and a number of young players who have so far had little playing time in the national jersey.

Slovenia coach Srečko Katanec
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
File photo

"We are facing two very difficult matches. Both opponents are stronger than us on paper, but everything is possible in football," Katanec told the press in Brdo pri Kranju.

The coach is not completely happy with the team. "I'm not completely satisfied with what I see at certain positions. Some players are being brought back to the team, some are newcomers."

Some of the players have failed to meet Katanec's expectations. "I'm not really used to doing this, but if someone is not playing in the club and is young, then it is hard for me to call him back."

Katanec is not entirely satisfied with the form of some players in the defensive line either. "People should be aware that we are playing both games against teams that are complete, and our team, unfortunately, is not."

Slovenia will play Slovakia on 8 October and England on 11 October, both at home in Ljubljana. Only one round of play in the qualifying group F has been played so far, with Slovenia scoring one point in a 2:2 draw with Lithuania on 4 September.

* Slovenia's roster for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers:
- goalkeepers: Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid), Vid Belec (Carpi), Jan Koprivec (Antorthosis Famagusta);
- defenders: Boštjan Cesar (Chievo), Bojan Jokić (Villarreal), Boban Jović (Wisla Krakov), Miha Mevlja (Rostov), Miral Samardžić (Henan Jianye), Nejc Skubic (Konyaspor), Aljaž Struna (Carpi), Dejan Trajkovski (Twente);
- midfielders: Valter Birsa (Chievo), Matic Črnic (Rijeka), Josip Iličić (Fiorentina), Kevin Kampl (Bayer Leverkusen), Rene Krhin (Granada), Rok Kronaveter (Olimpija), Jasmin Kurtić (Atalanta), Nik Omladič (Eintracht Braunschweig), Aleks Pihler (Maribor), Benjamin Verbič (Koebenhavn), Miha Zajc (Olimpija);
- forwards: Robert Berić (St. Etienne), Roman Bezjak (Darmstadt), Milivoje Novaković (Maribor).

© STA, 2016